vacation elation: part 4 ~ off the ship and on the shore

hello, hello, hello my darlings!

i hope that i haven’t bored you all to tears with my detailed explanation of How To procrastinate, deny and eventually get to your vacation. and once i got you on the line, i took a four-week long hiatus, right? sad. my apologies, darlings! the perils of the working girl have revisited and pained me beyond belief. however! i am forging ahead and doing my best to keep all avenues open and alive. so, with that said, i have returned (after a hard day at work and picking up my son) to bore you with more about my beloved vacation (also after a fight with my mouthy four-year-old about WHY i get to use the computer and he doesn’t).

so, let’s go with a little quick review:

  1. this was my first vacation in ten years. it was required, needed, wanted and thoroughly enjoyed.
  2. it was a gift. yes, a gift. the whole thing: one giant gift.
  3. while on the cruise, tropical storms detoured us from our original itinerary and had us visiting other places sooner than we had intended, and skipping other places that we’d rather have seen (those places being St. Thomas and Puerto Rico).

and now that we are caught up, let’s get moving…

our first scheduled stop was to Nassau, Bahamas. i had a late night the night before (hahhaha… or every night) and didn’t get up in a timely manner. once we (me: the one who gets ready and them: the three that say they are getting ready) were all together, we headed out to shore. i think it was about a quarter-to-one in the afternoon and we had to be back on board the boat by two-ish… so, we went into the customs office slash tourist trap, bought a fan (omg it was so humid), a pina colada and took a few pictures, we got back into the almost-hour-long line to get back on the boat. it would suffice to say that we did not have the opportunity to enjoy very much of the Bahamas. but, while we were there, Makeni and I did enjoy a very real, very authentic Pina Colada. it was delicious. the only other thing i was able to do in the short time that we were there was COMPLETELY MELT. the humidity in these tropical places is what makes them tropical, beautiful, inviting and two blips to the left of completely miserable.

the official "Bahamas" sign with "How Many miles To" arrows posted on it and a line of people waiting to be photographed with it. i skipped the line, held the camera high and snagged this very impersonal shot.

our next stop was supposed to be St. Thomas but that tropical storm pushed us on to Grand Turk Island. we were going to stop there, on day six or so, but here we are! day three and to Grand Turk we will go!

Grand Turk island is approximately seven miles long by three miles wide. it has a beautiful white sand beach (with a buncha rocks) and there are beautiful white and blue chaises and umbrellas for rent. you can’t get far without hearing about Margaritaville. yup! you guessed it.. the Jimmy Buffet song inspired Margaritaville (~singing~ wastin’ awaaaay again in Margaritaville. lookin’ fer my lost shaker of salt). so i went to the beach with the “say they are’s” and the rocky beach really put a cramp in my style… mostly by just being under my foot. so i left! i left the beach, i left the girls and went off my own. and whaddya know, there was music playing…

that’s where i found:

the DJ on the ones and twos that had MVille on full tilt!

um, sorry, that’s BSB for “this is the man that played wonderful music and brought the party, kept it alive and made it the most memorable inebriated event to date”.

Margaritaville is huge. huge on a 21 square mile island? either way, there was a bar and restaurant, but what caught my eye was the twisty windy waist-high swimming pool that didn’t seem to end. and, and, AND!! it had a swim-up bar. holy sweet tea on ice!!! that’s not what i had to drink, but boy was i excited. i got there at the same time as the other girls at our dinner table: Li and Shantel.

Shantel(L), Liana(R) and myself(M). LIVIN' IT UP AT THE 'Ville (that's right, me and the Ville are on a nickname basis)

so i met up with these two ^ and we shed our outer layers, grabbed our oversized shades and headed off into the crowd:

yup, into THIS! crowd

the crowd actually got bigger and bigger and closer together. this is a photo from when we first got there. i refused to take my phone (that’s where my camera is) into the water and so, pictures of the Ville are limited. after we got in, got familiar and sauntered over to the bar, we found these folks:

where you from? the Bay areaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

i apologize to those whose names i do not know… however. in the back row, from left to right: Stretch, Norm, Vange and “OH! I shoulda bought me some Monster, can I buy one from you?” and in the front, also from left to right is: Jay, the Homie Romie and The Mystery Man. ๐Ÿ™‚

they brought a party, bought a party and let us join their fun. jell-o shots by the tray with tequila on top. really? can you do that? i didn’t think so either, but they did and then we did and we all did and it was all good.

mmm hmmm.. J & N lovin' up on the jell-o

i don’t know why Nikki is not in those pictures. but she is also from the bay area and she introduced me to her very fun, very generous and entertaining friends.

Vange, me and BabyCakes, havin' more fun than is legal for mothers away from their children (not really)

can you see the tequila in my eyes? hahahahah.. it was such a fun day. we had such a good time. i haven’t been that water logged since i was half the age i am now.

Stretch and Rome kickin' with the PrettyGirls

you see those smiles? look again. from the first “bay area” photo: not so much in the smile department, then Jay and Norm ensuring that a good time was going to be had, and the next two photos ain’t nothin’ but TEETH. good times, people. good times.

after the jell-o, the tequila, a mai tai (naturally), the push-up contest and the beginning of the “shake whatcha mama gave ya” contest, i was shriveling like a prune. i slowly made my way back to the boat. i got held up by security/customs/Turk-Island-Naitve who told me that i was not allowed to leave. it was his way of flirting. he was nice. i waved and kept it moving. i think it was that night that we saw Charlie Wilson. (i just consulted the itinerary and i was right, see my previous post for the goods on Mr. Wilson).

the next morning, i stumbled upon the bay area, having breakfast and perusing the photos from the day before (all taken by Vange on her fabulous evidence catching iPhone):

breakfast! with the bay. (sorry for the bright spot)

this day we spent at sea and BabyCakes (that’s Nikki) and i spent the entire day on the upper deck soakin’ up the sun and sharin’ a few laughs. we were donned “cruise celebrities” later that day and all we could was laugh and smile. we certainly made our fair share of friends and acquaintances. Rome came to hang with us later in the day and the three of us shared some of the buffets afternoon yumminess: nachos, chicken strips, french fries and as many cups of ice water that would fit on a tray. the only thing that made us depart was needing a nap before dinner.

the next day was thursday and our destination was key west. i think i gave you the low down on my aunt spraining her ankle on wednesday night. getting off shore on this day was difficult due to needing a wheelchair and all that other nonsense. it was just shy of painful. also, i know that i have complained about the tropical climate and the humidity but hear me now: key west florida is no less than four minutes from hell. apparently we made it ashore just after a little thunder storm. it was beautiful outside and very inviting but just beyond the threshold of the air condiditoned boat was air so thick with water that you could hold out a glass and quench your thirst. again, i was soaked from head to toe. we went ashore in search of key lime pie which seemed to be in every store, including the jewelry store.

“engagement ring? sure right here. and while you browse, here’s a piece of pie.”

Makeni wanted to find a key lime meringue and i was just done. i had hit my limit on the little shuttle. it was awful! awfuuuuullll! and then! my aunt said:

“look neesh, they sell Monster.”

holy smokes and artichokes! i honestly left my aunt, in her borrowed wheelchair, while i crossed the street and entered the smallest little store i have ever been in and found that sweet-glowing-jazzy-energy-in-a-can:

yessssssssss!

i walked out, Monster in hand and she said:

“i know you didn’t buy ONLY ONE. you’ve been complaining about Monster since we got on the boat and you only bought ONE?”

yeah, huh? so i went back in. spent everything i had and came out with an armful! we piddled around a little bit and then i had to protest:

“it’s just too damned hot for me, we gotta go back, i can’t take it anymore!!!”

i got on the boat buzzin’ from the charge of being Monster-sober for a week and then getting my first gulp. mmmmm mmmm. but before we go, let’s look at the few pictures i took before i melted on the sidewalk.

Mallory Square, where the shuttle dropped us off and picked us up.

the Shipwreck Historeum. doesn't it look like the ultimate treehouse or the lost extension for the Swiss Family Robinson monstrosity?

between the car and foot traffic and the unbearable humidity, this is the only picture that came out worth a hoot.. ๐Ÿ˜

the intersection of humidity and hell... or somewhere in key west florida

shortly after staring at these two street signs i had myself-induced heat attack and went off ranting like a melting lunatic. seriously. i was just so darned hot. we went to the shuttle pick-up point which was next to a little indoor mall… WITH AIR CONDITIONING. lord love a duck.. i took my time walking in, walking around and just breathing. and then the horrible reality hit that i had to go back outside to get on the trolley and then stand in a line OUTSIDE to get back on the boat. geez. i’m not made for this. i’m a city girl, with country girl swagger. i’m not an outdoorsy camping type. i’m a hotel girl. i don’t mind being poolside, but i need less humidity and more beverage. yes, more beverage please!

out of the mall, melted. on the trolley, melted multiplied by melted as we waited for others and the loading of the wheelchair. off the trolley, melted. in the line to get on the boat, MELTED. up the ramp, through the metal detector, bag search and finally, into some air that was mostly void of moisture. sweet beans and histamines!! i hate to be so redundant about the humidity but just thinking of it makes me feel sticky.

on our last day we went to Freeport on the Grand Island of the Bahamas. there was much confusion over where to go and what to do. as one fellow shuttle-mate stated “it’s crunch time” and if you hadn’t done anything, now was the time to try and do it. i think the boat was empty that day. we went ashore and after another taxi cab squabble and a short ride we were far from where we actually wanted to be. i was with all of the girls when the day started, but once we got disparaged by the confused location, i split from them and joined up with another group of Cruise Crew members. Coincidentally, we all ended up at the same beach.

the groups merged and formed volleyball teams and a few amateur jet skiiers.

baby pine trees that were actually perfectly straight, but with the momentum of the craziest taxi ride ever, they appear bent

willie and torie. too cute. married forever and so in love.

volleyball at Taino Beach, Freeport, Grand Island of the Bahamas

me and torie. the non-volleyball players. enjoying the music, the sunlight and the company.

the winning team engaged in a group high-five!

Ruben. the best taxi driver ever.

the gang. the last outing of the last day of the cruise. that's Hank Sr. on the left and that's Hank Jr.'s on the right in the second row.

we had a lot of fun on this last day. we all tried to go to some other beach that was not what it was supposed to be. it was too far away, tiny, laden with rocks and generally lacking in all areas. we all ended up at Taino Beach. a picture perfect landscape with a little bit of everything: a bar/conch restaurant, jet ski rental, banana boat rental, sun bathing spot and impromptu gift shop. there was a group there before us that had most of the rentals tied up. so our groups split and played volleyball.

shortly there after, dwayne and i went jet skiing. whooo hooo! what fun. the water was choppy and it made for a less than smooth ride, but that had nothing to do with our fun. we fell off the jet ski twice and laughed so hard that i had a hard time getting back on. we skiied down a private channel and saw some very impressive homes. i told him “this makes me want to work twenty four hours in a day so that i can enjoy this life in the future”. it was inspirational, to say the least. we returned to the beach, to the taxi and to the boat. that last night i procrastinated and pondered on whether or not to actually go to the captain’s dinner, but i had to show my favorite server Tatiana some love and appreciation.

me and dwayne.

a good time was had by all. friends were made, experiences shared and memories forged to last a lifetime. i have relived the experience over and over again, always finding a new reason to smile. in the future i would do these things:

  1. take more pictures: you can never have enough pictures. i am going to look into the waterproof camera as suggested to me by Erika or “little miss ‘where’s my husband'” and her husband Chris.
  2. budget a little better: a few extra dollars would have given me a cushion of comfort.
  3. prepare to be solo: there’s nothing wrong with a group trip, with a group outing, with a group anything. but sometimes, it’s good to separate and take time to oneself. now, i can’t say that i didn’t enjoy a fair amount of time on my own, but i felt bad about it (at first). as if i had let the group down.
  4. get up and get out: when the boat docks, no matter where, get off the boat and see what’s going on. there’s no reason getting on a boat and taking a cruise with destinations if you’re only going to stay on the boat. don’t waste the experience.
  5. do not waiver: vacation is not the time to be timid or shy. if you want something, want to try something, want to do something, do it. it’s as simple as that. again, don’t waste the experience. like my early morning run in miami. when would i see the sun rise in miami again? i didn’t know then and i still don’t know now, but i’m so glad i got up and did it and snapped a picture to remind me.
  6. enjoy yourself. on every level.

and this concludes part four. also belated, but worth it just the same. i have one more part and that will be about the food. i hope i’ve convinced you all to think about a vacation, save for it and actually start planning it. you won’t regret it. we all take time off, we rest, we chill, we relax… on the couch, out in the yard or wherever we happen to power down at. but this! this was a vacation. a complete disconnect on every level from everything. it was needed, it was worth it and i can’t wait to do it again. so, until the next time my darlings… stay sweet.

vacation elation: part 3 ~ the cruuuuuise

drum roll please!

and now.. for the part you’ve all been waiting for. the part that tells about the people, the parties and about the pool… the part that details the events, the activities and the food. i present to you… the cruuuuuise.

did ya like that? i tried to present it to you as a gift. this experience that i am about to share with you was a gift to me. uh huh. it’s true. my aunt has been traveling with Blue World Travel and their Festival at Sea for the past five years. she has tried to get me to go with her, for at least four of those five years. each time i denied. sometimes due to finances, sometimes due to childcare, but mostly because i was nervous to cruise. flat out scared.

“… just floating out there in the ocean? i dunno.”

“it’s not like that, you’re so busy doing other things that you won’t even notice.”

“i dunno. it sounds scary.”

“you would have so much fun. i know that once we got on the boat, i wouldn’t see you anymore… except maybe to change your clothes.”

“i doubt that.”

this was the conversation between she and i for years. years. last year i made the decision to join her. knowing that my last vacation was a farce and that i needed to get away for a while, i welcomed the excitement of knowing there was a “vay-kay-shun” on the horizon. during the year that we had to prepare and ponder, a lots of things happened in a lot of different areas. at one point, i was uncertain if i still wanted to go. we went back and forth a bit over whether to take my four-year-old. for a little while, he was included in our plans. then we decided that perhaps he should stay at home. he stayed home.

during that year, my aunt continued to tell me to buy clothing and other vacation stuffs over time so that i wouldn’t be bogged down at the end. somewhere along the way, i lost my job and buying things became the least of my worries. my very generous aunt extended this gift to me, as well. as she shopped for shoes and dresses, i did the same. i was very reluctant. i didn’t want to spend her hard-earned money more than i had to and i felt that she was dramatizing the desire to have so much on hand. i was wrong. for a little while i felt that i had taken too much clothes, shoes and makeup. but now i can see that without having taken what i took, i wouldn’t have felt as comfortable as i felt. i like having options.

there was also a whole discussion on the number of swimsuits needed for a seven-day cruise. she told me i would want five or six or seven. say whaaat? ummm, no. i don’t think that’s necessary. i resisted that idea to the hilt!

“what? seven swimsuits? that’s ridiculous.”

“i’m serious. you’re going to wish you had them when you get there.”

“i haven’t had seven swimsuits in seven years, why would i want seven swimsuits for a week-long vacation?”

“you should trust me on this.”

“i dunno. that just sounds crazy.”

*sigh* again, i was wrong. i think i took five, but i actually used three the most (because they were of the same shape and design and i could stick to the same set of tan lines). however, i wish that i had two for everyday. they were so much fun. i enjoyed the ultimate amount of time in the sun. more than my skin could handle. when i left California, i was a nice even paper sack tan. upon return i was a smooth burnt buttermilk biscuit brown. no lie. my nose peeled twice on the boat and i had to stop wearing foundation because it didn’t match my skin. still doesn’t– at all.

ok. so let’s get on with it. the cruise, the flights, the hotel, the clothes, the haircut and the pedicure were all courtesy of my aunt. she treated me to everything. including pre and post-cruise meals and drinks as well as treats, snacks and keepsakes. she is unlike any other person in my life. she gave me the best gift i could have ever asked for. a cruise vacation after a ten-year vacation hiatus. to that i say:

“thank you, Danise, for your love, your friendship and your gift. you were right about not seeing me other than to change clothes and the number of swimsuits i should have taken. i needed this vacation so much and i don’t know how to thank you enough for asking me to go with you one more time, or for handling all of the arrangements and for keeping me and SuperBoy safe during this time (and all other times). your love knows no limits. i thank God, in the Heavens above, for you and wish you nothing but the best in everything that you do. i am forever indebted and will never forget your care, concern and kindness. I LOVE YOU VERY MUCH.”

ok. mushy stuff aside, let’s get on with this cruise! we left on a red-eye flight with two layovers getting us to Miami (push-off point) the next morning. after a couple of slight delays, we made it in about lunch time. there were two days of pre-cruise party fun to be had. we got in, got settled and stared out our window for at least an hour (even the rusted roof was a welcome sight):

looking at Miami from our hotel room. cruise countdown: 48 hours.

we soon met up with Melinda and Makeni, completing our quartet. with sunglasses on and little purses in hand, we were on our way to dinner.

me, Danise (my aunt), Melinda and Makeni ... ready to start our vacation with a meal together.

we caught a taxi to Bayshore Village and ate at Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Co. them’s some good eats! they were served to us by Lenin (he was so nice, but the air conditioning in the kitchen and in our part of the restaurant was busted. so the poor guy sweat just bringing us drinks and napkins. i hated to ask him for anything additional knowing that he had to go into the scorching kitchen to get it):

Melinda, Lenin and Makeni

Danise, Lenin and I

we followed up dinner with a walking tour of the village area. it was crowded. there were lots of people, lots of shopping, eating and entertaining. there was a “concert in the park” type event going on and we stopped for a moment and enjoyed the music:

it's not the best picture but you get the idea. we were seated on concrete amphitheater type seats. people were dancing about and clapping along to the music.

i found a store selling Monster energy. aaaaah. sweet glowing amped-up goodness in a can. melinda and makeni found ten-minute chair massages. when we left, we actually got into a verbal argument with a crappy cab driver who wanted to blatantly over-charge us. he was rude and bordering disrespectful. but we didn’t let him steal our shine. we battled him back with our words and he eventually surrendered to our undeniable logic and walked away. hmph. chump.

upon returning to the hotel, we found a lobby full of fellow cruisin’ party people. it was apparent that my vacation was well under way. two of our four retired for the evening. Makeni and i stayed afloat in the lobby making friends, playing cards and getting to know some of our fellow cruisers. we were kicked out of the lobby at around 4 o’clock in the morning so they could clean and tidy up.

me. sportin' Wild Bill's pterodactyl feet slippers (he actually challenged me on the spelling of pterodactyl and was shocked when i busted out my phone and looked up the spelling right then and there. hmph).

i was up before i ever laid down. up dressed and ready to go. we decided to spend some time out and about and we started with lunch:

lunch on South Beach...where i had my first and my best Mojito. cruise countdown: 24 hours

our lunch was followed by some actual factual time on South Beach, in Miami. what a hot spot. (pssst. i saw some topless sunbathers there. say whaaat? yes. fa real.) the humidity in Florida has got to be somewhere near the same as the Amazon rainforest. i have never been in such a humid environment. ever. i honestly don’t know how people can live in this area. seriously. it was that bad.

after swimming in the beautiful water, in my dress-- i melted.

we left the beach, walked around the area and did a little shopping. i think we spent the most time in the Walgreens because of the outright air-conditioned environment. eventually i stopped going into the stores because it was so nice and there and so miserable outside.. i couldn’t stand the bi-polar-ness of it and just stayed outside awaiting three women shoppers. whew.

we returned to the hotel and naturally we went swimming:

me, Makeni, Danise (my aunt) and Melinda: pre-cruise party poolside fun. this lovely photo is courtesy of Jeffrey Walker.

we agreed to retire to our rooms respectively and get ready for “the Party”. the pre-cruise party. cash bar, finger foods and at least half of the anticipated cruisers. a nice way to meet more people before setting off to sea. this is where the division came in our group. some people get ready and some people just saaay they are getting ready. i was part of the former group. i was done and out the door and didn’t see the other girls for at least thirty minutes.

ready! and touring the scene with Wild Bill. (see there? hardly a noticeable tan.)

and that does it on pre-cruise party photos. hahahah. i made many acquaintances. shared many laughs and several drinks. i danced. i posed. i spent the majority of the wee-morning hours outside by the pool.

the beautiful pool, first thing in the morning, ready and waiting for the day's antics to begin.

that’s where i met my girl Nikki. it was her birthday and she treated herself to this lovely vacation. she was dancing to her own beat and i just jumped right in. we met r’here but we hung TIGHT throughout the trip. here we are days later, closer in friendship, sharing drinks and livin’ it up at the fantastic swim-up bar at the phenomenal Margaritaville on Grand Turk Island:

aka: SugarPie and BabyCakes (and a whole buncha other folk), kickin' it hard at the 'Ville

we’ll talk more about Margaritaville later. after the pre-cruise party, there was no time to sleep. i had stayed out until dawn. Nikki retired for the evening to get a little rest and get her luggage cruise ready. my luggage was ready, my “get on the boat” clothes were ready and i was anxious. i used my nervous energy to take a run. huh? yes, i’m serious. an “i’ve been out all night, but still can’t go to sleep, might not ever be back in Miami at dawn” cleansing morning run. here is the picture i stopped and took:

Miami at dawn... my cruise awaits, i better turn around...

upon returning, i walked a mile in the hotel gym (yup, i did that too), swam some laps in that lovely pool (i know, right? where am i getting the energy?) and eventually got ready to go. i laid down for maybe an hour and for some strange reason my eyes closed up tight. hmmm.. go figure. before we actually left the hotel, i called home to talk to my son and the sitter. they were both doing well. my little man told me “love you mommy”. *sniff*

the next two hours went something like this: out of hotel, on the shuttle, off the shuttle, through customs, through cruise check-in, through cruise doors, photoed and then photoed, onto the boat, into the room, to Makeni’s room, to Melinda’s room, up and out to the lido deck for food, and then a break to have an emergency meeting at our “unlikely” but potential emergency meeting stations. then back out for some much required, highly anticipated fooooooooood.

lido deck, push off, time to get this party started... and the countdown is OVER! cruise INITIATED.

the horn blew, the boat pushed off and we were well on our way. that’s the electric slide contest above. the first of many dance contests, line dances and group dances. it was fun. there was a “Freeze” factor added in and that made it all the better. the three girls below (from left to right: striped dress, yellow strapless and denim shorts) were like mannequins! mannequins i tell you!:

the freeze champions! if you ask me.

and that my friend, set the tone for the next six days on this wonderful boat. i met so many great people, made new friends, added at least a dozen or so folks to my facebook and got tagged in tooooo many pictures. but most of all, i had a great time. honestly– one of the best times ever. there was music, dancing, eating, laughing, drinking, swimming, and lots of smiling. and not necessarily in that order.

now, i’ve set the scene for you because i wanted you to feel the excitement and know that fun was around every single corner. i can’t walk you through every hour of every day, so i will hit you with the big stuff.

me. poolside. if you're looking for me, you haven't been in, near or around the pool.

i spent the first three days, right here. everything else i did, excluding the formal dinner, the scheduled entertainment or hanging out at the “club” was done very near here.

the Festival at Sea is planned. there are activities planned for the majority of everyday. and that’s just on the boat. there are plenty of things to do when you go ashore, if you go ashore. they had exercise classes, prayer meetings, speed dating, dance contests, line dancing, dance classes, bingo, crafts and more. each night had a theme and the appropriate dress was requested for dinner. it was a lot of fun. the first night was relaxed and then! the next night! Sunday night was the Cool White Night Party as well as Mardi Gras.

Harold, Danise, Makeni, Melinda and Ron... i'm not in it, 'cause i took it.

Harold and I on Cool White Night

the Girls: Makeni, my aunt Danise and Melinda

and here’s everyone else (please forgive the blurry photos. i had not taken many “night” shots prior to the cruise. as well, up on deck and in the area above the deck it can be windy. just as one hits the “snap” button a gust of wind will help you “snap” a different shot completely):

Cool White Night Deck Party

... and the line dancing begins...

probably fifteen hundred people, dressed in white from head-to-toe

the next day i was poolside (see the poolside photo above) and that night, Monday night, we were entertained by the one and only Patti La Belle:

Hank Sr. screamed out from the crowd: "Patti! I love youuu!"

Patti was so gracious. she wasn’t feeling well and apologized throughout the show. she said that seasickness gave her indigestion.

“makes me feel like i have to burp, but i don’t.”

when she first came out on stage she was wearing some grey patent leather Christian Louboutins. nice. she talked to us like we were her friends. she sang a song and then she kicked those shoes off in Patti LaBelle style! (and naturally, she asked for her RedBottoms back).

out of nowhere (i didn’t know him then) Hank Sr. yells out that he loves her.

Hank: I love you Patti.

Patti: huh? say what, babe? what’d you say?

Hank: I love you!

Patti: oh, you love me? i love you too boo. are you married?

Hank: NO!

Patti: no? uh oh. c’mere, lemme see you.

Hank came out into the light and after direct instruction from Patti to “let the man go”, security let him up on stage. he was beaming and i was almost blinded. she asked him whom he was on the cruise with and he explained that it was a graduation gift to his son, Hank Jr. sweet, right? she called Hank Jr. onto the stage. she hugged them both and posed for a photo opportunity. before they left the stage Hank Sr. kicked his shoes off. a little less gracefully, but with just as much drama. good times.

it was a great concert. she sang my favorite Patti songs. sadly, though, she really wasn’t feeling well and had to excuse herself from the stage more than once. if she wouldn’t have told me, i wouldn’t have known. she almost brought me to tears when she sang “Somebody Loves You”. such memories attached to that song.

i apologize for the month long hiatus between part two and part three. my world at home has taken a turn for the better and left me with less time to share my thoughts. i came home to a job offer, followed by pre-employment testing, physicals and examinations. then i woke up to a toothache! total bummer. shortly thereafter i actually started working without any particular mode of transportation (i carpooled, borrowed and prayed for a ride) and just recently signed my name on the dotted line to call a little car: my own. with that said, i have to pick up where i left off and that has all become a little fuzzy over time.ย  it’s a good thing we kept every scrap of paper and took so many photos to help me replace my shoddy memories with real ones. SO! let’s move forward, shall we?

next on the list! “Charlie, last name: Wilson.” do you know who that is? i hope so, but if not, i’ll tell you: he was the lead singer of the Gap Band (and i know you know who the Gap Band is). we were up in the rafters for Patti, but we were ground level for Charlie. and boooooy was that a show!! he really really put it on. and! and! he wasn’t feeling well either. he confessed that he had food poisoning and that he wasn’t up to par, but if you ask me, even his not-up-to-par was phenomenal.

Charlie! sharing stories of his personal battles including: drug and alcohol abuse and prostate cancer. he was happier to share that he has been sober for seventeen years.

after the show, i wandered about looking for nikki. i perused the crowds this way and that and made my way up to the lido deck to check out what the midnight buffet had in store. nothing interesting… to me anyway. as i continued on my way, i was verbally accosted by a group of men (just kidding, they asked me if i was lost because i was wandering). i sat down and low and behold it was a fair share of the gentlemen that i had just seen on stage:

Aubrey on the left, Bruce on the right

ย Aubrey made me laugh out loud, really loud, with his editorial commenting. he bought me a mojito and told me i was hilarious.

Bruce seems extremely serious, but he’s actually very sweet. i wouldn’t wanna cross that line though, i’m sure his serious side is his well paid side. ๐Ÿ˜€

(pssst~ i can't remember his name) playin' the bass

mr. man on the bass was busy. maybe he wasn’t busy, but his eyes sure were.ย  like a kid in a candy store.

me on the left, and the sweetest dancin' girl on the right

and that sweetheart of a backup dancer was just so pleasant. she complimented my famous foam flower, shared her workout routine, told me not to keep the boys up too late and then flashed her pearly whites for my mojito-driven photo session. ๐Ÿ˜€

good times.

thus far i haven’t mentioned Jon Saxx & Endless Possibilities. they were onboard entertainment also. Jon Saxx is a phenomenal saxophone player and his band is B-A-D! they were on deck, in the Atrium and they also entertained at the Gospel Breakfast.ย  i enjoyed watching him make connections with his audience as he serenaded everyone in the crowd —ย  personally. this is a photo of him on the last day we were on the ship, but he was there the whole time and i enjoyed his sound and the passion that he instilled in every note he played.

serenading the scene with his saxxophone..

there were also two comedians. aj jamal and jay lamont. both guys are truly hilarious. i met aj jamal poolside and jay lamont mingled with me and the CW boys (that’s, uhhh, Charlie Wilson band fellas). i would be a liar if i said that i hadn’t seen them both a million times on the television, but being side by side and actually having conversation was far more entertaining. i got a photo-op with aj jamal:

me and aj jamal

but my opportunity to showcase a photo with jay lamont was sabotaged by a dead cell battery. boooo. anyway! i had a great time mingling with the entertainment, and i think they had a good time hangin’ out with me. i hope they did anyway.

well, my faithful darlings, i’m going to end this extremely long post here. i will return much sooner than before and i promise to tell you more about the food and the people i met. until then… stay sweet!